East Verde Park, just eight miles northwest of Payson, has a program for being fire-safe.
It's called Firewise and it is dedicated to educating and reducing the wildfire risk in their community.
So far they have spent approximately 1,500 hours on cleanup, which includes the removal of shrubs and trees around East Verde Park and along the river. With the use of chain saws, rakes, cutters of various kinds they have managed to clean up almost 50 percent of the public areas.
In the process, the Firewise committee is educating the residents about the importance of being fire-wise. Jim Paxon, known as "the fire guy," because of his steady and important presence as lead information officer for the Forest Service at the Rodeo-Chediski Fire, gave a talk and slide show at the East Verde Park meeting hall on Saturday, Oct. 13. His talk covered the nature of fire and what still needs to be done to help make East Verde Park safer.
He stressed the importance of controlling the growth of the manzanita tree. It catches fire easily and can burn for a long time and is hard to put out once it ignites.
Paxon has written a book about the Rodeo-Chediski Fire titled; "The Monster Reared Its Ugly Head," which details the experience of not only that fire, but of forest fires in general and how to be fire-safe. Board members include Matalyn Gardner, President, Lee Acciacca, Vice President, Polly Weaver, Sec.-Treas., Jim Cambier, Marguerite Young, and Dan Haapala.
For more information about Firewise, go to http://www.firewiseevp.mypayson.com